TRIGGER release their long awaited full length album “REGALITY“. The album that charted at #1 on Billboard, Oricon daily and weekly and Animate is exactly what you could expect from this group: sexy, filled of dancefloor anthems and top tier vocal performances.
Title: REGALITY Label: Lantis Release date: 20/09/2017 Genre: J-Pop/Dance
1. SECRET NIGHT 2. NATSU☆しようぜ！ 3. Last Dimension〜引き金をひくのは誰だ〜 4. 願いはShine On The Sea 5. Leopard Eyes 6. DAYBREAK INTERLUDE [title track] 7. Riskyな彼女 (Takuya Sato solo) 8. 幸せでいて (Wataru Hatano solo) 9. U COMPLETE ME (Soma Saito solo) 10. In the meantime 11. DESTINY
Track by track analysis:
1. SECRET NIGHT
Very reminiscing of the 80’s pop tunes, SECRET NIGHT impresses on a first listen. The instrumentalization, especially in the verses, is one of our favorites in this release. It’s slow paced, dark and sexy at the same time, every single synth (saw, pads and more are layered in a way that there’s nothing overwhelming or overly repetitive to distract the listener from the vocal performances). Those are actually, incredibly good. The chorus is so catchy that it begs us to sing along to the blunt and provocative lyrics. The group shows incredible chemistry throught the song, the melodies are perfect, their harmonizations and choruses are powerful. It’s hard to point out who stood out in this performance, especially when you can tell by the performance that everyone gave their all. Sato‘s sexy melodies and harmonizations, Hatano‘s ability to lead and blend with everyone using his versatile vocals, Saito‘s well needed higher notes that stand out in the middle of two strong baritones with low and sexy singing tones. SECRET NIGHT opens this album in the best way. 5/5
NATSU☆しようぜ！strays away from TRIGGER‘s trademark sound. For those used to the group’s alluring and powerful sound (and are listening to this song for the first time), this song sure will shock you. It’s nothing alike their image and trademark sound. Guitars and slow paced drums mix with hyped synths to create an upbeat, bright instrumental. It has the makings of a hyped, pop-rock song to lift up the spirits of those at an arena. The vocal performance was, once again, uncharacteristically of them. This time around, the tempo is clearly faster and so is the singing – with some parts sounding more like fast rap rather than singing. Regardless of any fun elements this song might bring to the table we consider that this song lacks in a lot of aspects. The vocal parts could have been better paced, the instrumental could have ditched the overly bright synths, they could have used better the pop-rock concept for this group. This lineup might be one of the most talented out there among seiyuu but that isn’t enough to save this instrumental. If they wanted to add something refreshing to TRIGGER’s repertoire they should have avoided the generic path they took with this song, this is the perfect example of what “turning TRIGGER into a bright, preppy unit” would sound like: a generic mess 3.5/5
3. Last Dimension〜引き金をひくのは誰だ〜
Back into the heavy synth based instrumentals we find Last Dimension〜引き金をひくのは誰だ〜, perhaps one of the most dubstep imbued songs on this album. Washy and wobbly synths, pads and an addictive but simple beat grab the attention of the listener during the intro. As soon as the first verse makes its entrance, the focus changes towards a bassier, slower paced instrumental – resorting to a powerful bassline and bass kick driven drums sample. The contrast with the uptempo and dancefloor driven chorus is clear as day and night. As soon as the first bar of the chorus is played you can’t help but to dance along to it. The chorus’ explosion of energy is impossible to ignore. Even with all the dubstep-ish elements we can still find, especially during the verses, some retro elements courtesy of a few selected synth samples in the pre-chorus. Now, onto the vocal performances. There’s one thing that needs to be pointed out. Their performance is completely in sync. Listen to the chorus. No one is in the background as well as no one is on the spotlight alone. They work as a unit for a complete performance. We need to point out that during the solo parts, Sato‘s performance was the one that stood out the most to us. His vibrato was deadly during the bridge. As a whole, Last Dimension〜引き金をひくのは誰だ〜 is a dance tune that manages to blend power with sexiness in an energetic and addictive way. 5/5
4. 願いはShine On The Sea
願いはShine On The Sea tones down a bit their heavy synth-driven sound, leaning towards a more acoustic, simple, classic pop sound – at least if we count out the bridge/dance break. This change of pace is welcomed, especially when it has a reminiscing 00’s touch that is well executed. The instrumental adopts a quieter approach led by the acoustic guitar, simple synths and sampled bassy drums. The chorus takes inspiration in late 00’s Japanese pop songs. The song’s progression, the way the chorus was composed and the instrumentalization are a clear nod to that era. Still, we need to point out that there’s an underlying melancholic touch to this song despite its bright vibe. Given that this song is performed on a slightly higher scale than previous ones, we now notice some balance shifts within the group. TRIGGER still deliver a leveled, consistent performance but Saito clearly takes the front wheel, as the one in charge of climbing up the scale. But, like mentioned before, the group has fantastic teamwork and that shows once again in this performance. Sato‘s melodic ad-libs in the background compliment his astouding vocal performance and Hatano‘s ability to support both ends of the spectrum, balancing Saito‘s high notes and Sato‘s lower, melodic registry, still delivering a powerful performance on his solo parts impresses us. Even if Hatano and Saito are not the main focus for this song, if they weren’t around we wouldn’t have those low, melodic notes that make this song all the more enjoyable to listen to. 願いはShine On The Sea shows a classic pop side to TRIGGER while still keeping their identity intact. A gem in the middle of so many sexy dancefloor anthems. 5/5
5. Leopard Eyes
This song is too sexy to handle. Leopard Eyes is one of the fans’ favorite songs and it’s easy to understand its popularity after a listen. This is the definition of a dancefloor anthem for us. If there’s something we enjoy about TRIGGER‘s songs is that, whenever it has to go sexy, the instrumental slows down, focusing on a melodic, alluring vocal performance to grab the listener’s attention. And TRIGGER does this incredibly well. The song is incredibly slow paced for a dance/electronic pop song. Dirty synths mix with slow paced drums samples, and the build up is mainly performed by the vocals instead of the instrumental – that simply uses a clap track to hype the pre-chorus. The pizzicato strings and the gated, delayed vocals during the bridge were nice touches after a dubstep-ish dance break. All these elements made this song not only addictive but also fresh. The vocal performance can be summed up in one word: provocative. It doesn’t help that the lyrics are flat out risqué, the vocals lean towards an even more melodic, lower scaled performance, filled with vibrato to add the finishing alluring touches to the song. This song might be 2 years old but is still one of their best. 5/5
6. DAYBREAK INTERLUDE
Dreamy synths join in to create a melody very reminiscing of T.M.Revolution‘s early 00’s sound. DAYBREAK INTERLUDE is old school pop gold. It’s extremely well paced (with a well crafted progression), making good use of the bassy synths and delivers a killer chorus. Guitar licks and riffs, progressive synths (that range from washy, stabs, etheral and many more), drums and piano melodies blend to create the addictive, slightly ethereal instrumental we’re presented with. If the instrumental sounds too simple for you on paper, then we let you know that that old school vibe isn’t only for show. The keytar and vocoder make their appearances in the second part of the song, completing the whole old school pop vibe. This is yet another dancefloor anthem with catchy melodies, simple synth work and a lot of effort put into the vocal performance. The performance is extremely entertaining and energetic, immediately grabbing our attention. You’ll want to sing along to this song’s chorus given how infectious it is. And can we talk about Sato and Saito‘s powerhouse ad-libs and harmonizations in the background during the last minute of the song? Those were simply amazing and unexpected. It’s indeed “checkmate” for us. Yet another top tier pop tune. 5/5
Sato goes solo for the first time as part of TRIGGER. You better prepare yourself well for this song because this is an emotional rollercoaster, and Riskyな彼女 might win the award of sexiest song on this album. The slow paced beat mixed with those french 90’s electronica inspired synths, clearly more melodic than the ones we’ve listened to on this album so far, is such a good mix. The chorus is once again a winner for us, the mature lyrics and overall performance will blow you away. This instrumental alone deserves all marks there are to give. On the vocal department, Sato‘s performance ranges from sweet mid-tones to sexy deep tones and even some moans – yes, you read this right. There’s several tempo changes that influence the way he’s singing throughout the song – fast paced and rough during those synth heavy parts, sweet and seductive for the rest of the song. One thing that people might not notice is that Sato‘s an extremely talented singer. It’s not only that he works well as part of a group, he’s able to hold his own alone, but that still isn’t enough for him. He needs to own the song completely. And he does exactly that with this performance. His versatile skillset has enabled him to be sweet, aggressive and alluring, all at the same time and deliver one of the most melodic and memorable songs on this release. 5/5
Wataru Hatano doesn’t spare anything nor anyone with this sweet acoustic ballad. Strings, acoustic guitars, simple, splashy drums and a reverberating bass – clearly the reason this song has so much depth and such a sweet vibe – blend to create this laidback and warm instrumental. It’s impossible not to be moved by this instrumental nor by his performance. This is far from being a trademark TRIGGER instrumental but it fits incredibly well in the middle of a repertoire of sexy dancefloor anthems. Hatano kicks off this song with gentle high notes and what awaits us in 幸せでいて is much more of that high quality, top tier singing that has been a staple of his since he kicked off his solo career. If there’s something that he’s well known for is for having a sweet singing tone that never, ever fails to impress. Gentle, sweet and emotional, this ballad sits on a special place among this unit’s songs. 5/5
9. U COMPLETE ME
The last solo song is performed by none other than TRIGGER‘s center, Soma Saito. U COMPLETE ME is yet another song that strays away from the unit’s sound. A mix of guitar riffs and synths leads the way for this tropical instrumental. You could say that this is an extremely upbeat and bright song, something that, given what we’ve heard so far, doesn’t fit that well with the album’s overall dark, sexy mood. The intro is a bit of a lackluster and after the other stunning solo songs, we can’t help but to think that this song lacks in almost every department. In regards to the instrumental, we can only say that this tropical pop tune certainly fits with the current music trends but it’s tiring and repetitive. The vocal performance was that one department that we were hoping would save the song but it was a lackluster as well. But don’t worry, Saito is still singing up to standards – tackling everything without mistakes -, we find it odd and it sounds a bit off the fact that he’s not singing in the usually breathy way (Tenn’s trademark). The song’s color doesn’t fit the character nor the seiyuu. This song is the result of a whole lot of bad decisions. If we have to rank the solo songs, clearly the center’s song is the worst out of the 3. Nothing really worked well for this song that is, at best, forgettable. 3.5/5
10. In the meantime
Easily the best song TRIGGER has ever released, “In the meantime” has an addictive beat, classy and bassy synths and a selling chorus. Slow paced and rooted in a sweet piano melody, this song might initially fool everyone into thinking you’re listening to yet another ballad but the chorus says otherwise. This time around, we have less synths playing major roles in the instrumental, as a matter of fact, the instrumental sounds incredibly simple due to that synth shortage. This song has a melancholic touch thanks to the piano melody lingering in the background. Synth stabs help pace the song alongside the bass drums samples and clap tracks – this last one helps out building up tension for the chorus. The bassline is to die for this time around, instead of opting for a wobbly synth – characteristical of their dubstep imbued sound -, they opted instead for a rich, reverberating bass sound with little to no processing that adds an insane amount of depth to the song. The performances are exactly what we were expecting for this song. Energetic, melodic and, once again, alluring. This song is taylored for the dancefloor and knows exactly how to channel the groups’ sexy image. 5/5
DESTINY breaks away from conventional ballads. The intro is refreshing, consisting of delicate strings and a gentle piano melody but everything changes when the first verse kicks in. This song’s progression is among the best in REGALITY. The polar emotions on it (melancholy and hope) shape up this instrumental in an interesting way. DESTINY sounds fresh in the middle of all the dance songs on this release, firstly because it is, in essence, a ballad; secondly because the instrumental almost completely ditches synths, replacing those with a powerful bassline, mid-tempo drums and melancholic piano melodies. Now, the vocal department. This song lowers the scale and once again we find some shifts in the group’s balance. Sato easily leads the way, standing out with ease whenever there’s a chorus or a harmonization. His versatile vocals allow him to perform comfortably in a lower and higher registries. The fact that this song requires a lower registry in the verses and goes high in the chorus proved to be a fantastic way for Sato to showcase his vocal prowess. But let’s not take away the merit from Hatano and Saito‘s performances. Hatano‘s technique and experience come in handy to tackle the high notes we find in the chorus and he’s outstanding whenever he needs to lower the key. On the first verse, we were caught off guard with Saito‘s surprising good control over a lower registry – not as low as Hatano and Sato‘s but still incredibly good. Whenever there was need to go high on the scale – especially during the chorus – Saito was always ready to lead the way. As a whole, DESTINY closes the curtain on this album in the exact same note as it was opened: with class and power. Top marks. 5/5
TRIGGER release a near flawless album. After a thunderous release – met with critical acclaim as well as several accolades and records broken – people might think that there’s only hype around this group, the reality is a little bit different. Yes, there’s hype. Yes, the story events in the game might have helped this album perform in such an impressive way on Oricon, Billboard and Animate charts. But put that aside for 40 minutes. Listen to this album and you’ll understand – if you’re skeptic – why this unit has been impressing everyone, especially in the past few months. It’s not only all that we’ve mentioned above. It’s the music, it’s the quality of their performances, it’s their chemistry. It’s this group’s unique qualities that make them standout.
TRIGGER‘s trademark mix between classic pop and dubstep works incredibly well. On our side we’re not particularly fond of dubstep but we can clearly say that the amount of dubstep elements won’t bother you one bit – unless you’re too picky about it. People can enjoy melodic instrumentals with rich basslines and guitar riffs at the same time as they can enjoy a powerful dance break that goes all out on dubstep elements. It might sound odd on paper but this duality about their sound is performed in a fantastic way. It works and it makes this group’s sound unique. Songs like “Last Dimension〜引き金をひくのは誰だ〜” illustrate well how this duality actually works.
For us though, the best songs are the ones that opt for a melodic approach. Simple synths, pads, old school elements such as vocoders, these small things when mixed with the right elements, bring out the best in this group. “DAYBREAK INTERLUDE” and “In The Meantime” are two good examples of this, they are, at the same time, the best songs on this release.
Other trademark element for TRIGGER is their sexy vibe. We know we’ve written this countless times throughout our review but we’ll repeat it: this group is too sexy to handle. The lyrics are mature, sometimes borderline safe, others are filled with innuendos and the performances only add to this. “Leopard Eyes“, “SECRET NIGHT” and Sato‘s solo “Riskyな彼女” are the definition of alluring and classy.
Talking about classy and alluring we need to mention that TRIGGER‘s music isn’t, most of the times, uptempo. That simple fact is what makes them sound alluring. They are teasing the listener with melodic leads and slow paced drums. They aren’t cheesy while doing it, as a matter of fact, they are incredibly classy in the way they tease the listener as well as the way they handle that vibe.
Ballads are a strange concept for this group, still we were blessed with at 2 (even if one of them has ballad elements but isn’t fully one) ballads. Hatano‘s solo song “幸せでいて” and TRIGGER‘s “DESTINY“. Those two songs brought more to the table for this group, showing that they aren’t only dance pop artists, they can delve into different music genres and impress everyone. Ballads sure sound like a weird combination with this group but in reality, they fit incredibly well with them.
The only issues we found with this album lie in two specific songs: NATSU☆しようぜ！ and U COMPLETE ME. Bubbly pop songs don’t seem to fit well with this group and, in the middle of an album filled with dancefloor anthems, these two songs sounded out of place. Out of the solo songs, it was disappointing to find that the center’s song was the worst and weakest of them all, especially when we had high expectations for it after listening to Sato and Hatano‘s solo songs.
After listening to this album we came to the conclusion that there’s virtually nothing this group can’t do vocally. TRIGGER are a well oiled machine in which everyone knows their job and performs it in the best way possible, always trying to outdo the other members. The competitive nature that all three members (aside from the game) have talked about before, is exactly what drives them to deliver such a complete and vocally powerful release.
There’s nothing sloppy in their performances, as a matter of fact, it’s incredibly hard to find any kind of mistake or flaw in their performances. What we notice after listening to REGALITY is that this group had a lot of fun performing these songs and, as a result, the listener can’t help but to have fun with those. Also: it’s difficult to find a group with this much chemistry and without any flaws. Saito, Hatano and Sato compliment each other’s singing, making it impossible to find any flaws. Much of this might be due to the fact that this lineup is incredibly well balanced. Everyone in here has singing experience (some more than others), but all of them are extremelly talented singers. In terms of skillset, it’s hard to say who’s the most talented.
Hatano has countlessly proved that he’s a fantastic singer – with insane control over his vocals, able to go pretty high or low on the scale, he also has a thunderous vibrato (natural) and falsetto. He does it all in whichever group/project he’s a part of and is indispensable to TRIGGER.
Sato could have been the wild card for this group but in reality he’s a beast (no pun intended). Powerful and energetic, Sato‘s performances are always a delight to listen to. He has fun singing these songs. He doesn’t need to do anything to sound sexy (his deep voice and natural vibrato do the trick alone), which, by itself, fits incredibly well with Ryunosuke’s role and the group’s selling point. He has the most control out of the three over a lower registry, but he can go higher if needed and is always a treat to listen to in a more comfortable registry. Personally, he gave the best performances out of the 3 members. Give more love to Sato because he’s an incredibly powerful singer and deserves it.
Saito fits right in the middle of two deep vocals but that doesn’t mean he’s being carried by them or that he lacks in any way. His falsetto, high notes and versatility at both ends of the scale are refreshing. He also can tackle lower notes as you can listen to on “DESTINY“.
We can now conclude that this group is filled with talented all-rounders.
All in all, REGALITY is an undisputed top release, easily one of the best albums of 2017. With this album, TRIGGER have finally achieved their well deserved title as royalty in the 2.5D idol scene.
“REGALITY” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.